Carving a Place for Him: From Man Cave to Man Castle

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The spaces have existed since man can remember, yet somehow the modern man often forgets how to dress his dwelling area. The ‘man cave’ gets salutes in modern literature, media coverage, and quips from presidential candidates, yet the ‘average joe’ scratches his head when it comes to carving a place for himself.

Why the ‘Man Cave’?

The ‘man cave’ is representative of the man himself, a framed and lived-in creation of one’s personality. The man cave improves a man’s quality of life, provides comfort, and serves as a place to hang one’s hat (or head and sulk depending on the events of a given day).

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Car Review: 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid

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There is no doubt that Toyota has been focused on styling with new models recently, and the 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid keeps that spirit alive and well. The all-new Highlander is a no-compromise, mid-size, three-row SUV that brings together the best in style, technology, comfort, capability and safety. Its exterior design conveys both refinement and strength, which complements a totally redesigned interior that will raise the bar in its segment. We drove the new Highlander for a week and had the chance to see exactly where Toyota is headed.

EXTERIOR

I first want to comment on the silver sky metallic paint, because so many people took notice of the color and complimented on the appearance and paint for the whole testing period. It’s a very clean color that also looks very modern and stylish. Sophisticated and dynamic, the new Highlander Hybrid features a progressive silhouette, a lower roofline for improved aerodynamics and sculptured side-door panels. The exterior has grown in length by approximately three inches, while width has increased one-half inch, conveying a sleek and strong appearance.

From the front, Highlander’s hood merges with a redesigned trapezoidal grille, wraparound headlamps and deeply chiseled fenders for a more aggressive appearance. The length of the profile, from the front fenders to the rear quarter panels, boldly stands out with sculptured wheel wells at the corners, allowing for prominently protruding wheels. The total package is capped off by a newly designed height-adjustable rear lift-gate with an available one-touch power open/close and driver selectable memory height settings, and taillights and a bumper that exude style and strength. The chromtec roofrails were also a nice touch!

INTERIOR

This is where Toyota has really stepped things up with the 2014 Toyota Highlander Limited Hybrid, delivering a luxurious cabin with more space than appears from the exterior. Toyota engineers raised the bar on interior design for the mid-size SUV segment by adding even more refinement and functionality to the new Highlander and Highlander Hybrid. The 2014 model offers a premium interior highlighted by increased spaciousness for up to eight people, and an array of standard comfort, convenience and technology features.

The new Highlander’s interior utilizes premium materials to offer an upscale experience, with most models featuring standard contrast seat stitching. All Highlanders come equipped with a soft-touch instrument panel and silver-painted, satin and chrome-plated accents that are thoughtfully placed throughout the interior. Wood-grain pattern trim can be found on the front dash and door trim. The Limited grade model we tested adds touches of elegance. Premium fabrics, available smooth and perforated leather-trim seats, leather wrapped steering wheel and shift knob add to Highlander’s redesigned upscale interior. The adoption of a high-quality knit roof lining and available second-row sunshades add to Highlander’s refinement and comfort.

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Car Review: 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker

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Dodge is really serious about steering the Challenger into the front row of the muscle car race in North America with the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker. You have to give it to Dodge, as they really know how to connect with their customers, and the new R/T Shaker is a perfect example of that connection. We drove a brand new model for a week and were blown away by so many aspects of this sweet American dream car.

EXTERIOR

The header orange clear coat exterior paint, Shaker graphics and racing stripes are electric attention grabbers wherever you drive this car! For a dynamically striking look, the new Shaker-style Satin Black hood, roof and deck-lid stripe graphics visually translate this Dodge Challenger model’s name, while a Satin Black deck-lid spoiler provides the added downforce needed for 155 mph max-speed runs. For contrast, a body-color grille surround and Gloss Black fuel-filler door were added, while all-new 20 x 8-inch polished-face aluminum wheels with black pockets and a satin matte clear coat feature a sculptured five-spoke design. For added detail, “Shaker” badges flank both sides of the hood scoop, while “HEMI” fender badges and a new “Challenger” grille badge in classic script completes the iconic exterior. Those 20 x 8 inch wheels give an already confident car about as much attitude as you can fit into one car. From just about every angle, the 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker will draw you in with throwback design that has longevity.

INTERIOR

You can feel your adrenaline pumping from the time you enter the cabin, and with the added Shaker touches, there is no doubt that this car is special. The new Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker features a unique three-spoke, flat-bottom, leather-wrapped performance steering wheel with black accent finish and integrated vehicle controls. Corresponding with the steering wheel is a unique “K-Black” painted instrument panel and center-console bezel for a discrete look. Matching the “Shaker” numbered dash plaque are door bolsters with graduated accent stitching that mirrors the logo’s artistic reverberation.

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8 Survival Traits of the Modern Man

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What does it mean to be a man? Anatomically speaking, not much is different among the sexes. Genetically, people of various ethnicities and backgrounds are nearly identical. Three hundred years ago, a man shaved his face much in the same way he does today. So, what does it mean to be a ‘man’ by today’s standards?

A man is what he does, and traits determine behavior and associated thought. Here are traits of a man:

Smart

There are multiple intelligences, and today’s man knows how to exact tangents of intelligence at apropos times. For example, decades ago, it was custom for young men to attend university, and then seek employment in associated lines of business.

Today’s entrepreneurs take samples from a number of classes to create an original business. Others, drop college classes or don’t attend university altogether, opting for immediate access in the business world. Today, being ‘smart’ means succeeding regardless of GPA and diplomas.

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Vino Dei Fratelli offers a broad array of tasty Italian values

Lately, I’ve tasted quite a bit of Italian wine. The wines I’ve tasted recently represent a real cross section of what’s available from Italy — they’re all over the spectrum in terms of price points, grapes used and style. And at the end of the day that’s really a microcosm of what Italy produces, which is great variety. The Vino Dei Fratelli line features wines made all over Italy, and made by several families that vary by area. Basically each family specializes in making wines from varietals that are indigenous to their area. By sourcing from a host of family producers throughout Italy, Fratelli is able to offer genuine regional wines at reasonable price-points under one umbrella. Here’s a look at a handful of their newest releases that I feel represent very good values.

Vino Dei Fratelli 2011 Pinot Grigio – All of the fruit for this wine came from the Veneto region, and is 100 percent Pinot Grigio. Fermentation took place over a period of 20 days in stainless steel tanks. About 1,500 cases were produced and the suggested retail price is $12.99. Apple and yellow melon aromas are present on the nose of this Pinot Grigio. The palate shows off a continued parade of fruit characteristics with Yellow Delicious apple and bits of mango making their presence known. Lemon and tangerine zest, white pepper and a touch of Granny Smith apple are all in play on the crispy finish. This refreshing wine shows off fine varietal character for its price category. I found that this particular Pinot Grigio was at its best ice cold. It’s tasty all by itself but steps up when paired with light foods.

Vino Dei Fratelli 2011 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – The fruit for this wine came entirely from the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOCG region. It’s a 100 percent varietal wine. After harvesting and manual selection, the choice grapes were de-stemmed. Fermentation took place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Three months of bottle aging followed prior to release. About 1,500 cases of this wine were imported, and it has a suggested retail price of $11.99. Dark violet aromas lead the nose here along with interlaced red and black raspberry fruit characteristics. Sweet, fresh, black fig leads the juicy palate along with hints of blackberry and pepper spice. Montmorency cherry and dried date notes show up on the finish, along hints of rhubarb. This Montepulciano craves food and will work well with casual foods such as charcuterie, wings, simple pastas and the like.

Vino Dei Fratelli 2011 Primitivo – All of the fruit for this wine was sourced in the Southern Italian region of Puglia. It’s composed entirely of Primitivo which is a close relative to Zinfandel. Fermentation in a temperature-controlled environment took place over 15 days. Malolactic fermentation followed by aging in stainless steel tanks. About 1,500 cases of this wine were imported and it has a suggested retail price of $14.99. Fresh raspberry and blackberry aromas leap from the nose of this Primitivo. The charming palate of this wine is laced with continued blackberry, not to mention blueberry as well as red and black plum. Bits of earth and sweet chocolate emerge on the finish of this fruity, juicy and simply pleasing wine. Medium tannins and solid acid provide nice structure. This Primitivo is just a touch rustic in nature, which adds to its charm. It’ll work well with ribs, burgers, pulled pork or just about anything you pull off your grill or out of your smoker.

Vino Dei Fratelli 2011 Chianti – This 100 percent Sangiovese wine was produced from entirely Tuscan fruit. Temperature-controlled fermentation took place over 12 days, and aging in stainless steel occurred over 8 months. About 6,000 cases of this wine were made and it has a suggested retail price of $14.99. Leather, violets and tobacco aromas are all in evidence on the nose of this 2011 Chianti. Cherry flavors continue on the palate where they dominate things and are supported by underlying bits of dried wild strawberry. Pomegranate and a hint of dried red apple emerge on the finish, along with a tiny bit of black pepper. Firm acidy and medium tannins are present. This is a classic red sauce wine. Pair it with anything covered in a good Marinara or Bolognese, including a slice of Pizza on a Tuesday night, for a delightful match.

Italy as much (if not more) than any other country is food-obsessed. Part of that is a glass of wine with their meals. These four examples from Vino Dei Fratelli remind me of precisely the kinds of wine that Italians are drinking on a daily basis. These are well made, local offerings, aimed at youthful consumption. They’re also attractively priced for regular drinking. Look for these on the shelf at your local wine shop and take them home so that you can drink just the way regular Italians do every day.

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